CARSON, Calif. – The best thing about his elbow injury, A.J. DeLaGarza says, is that it won't keep him out of any playoff run the LA Galaxy might make. He didn't want to miss the postseason again.
The Galaxy defender sustained a dislocated elbow early in last weekend's 2-2 draw at D.C. United, a homecoming for the Marylander that veered well off script, and he expects to be back on the field early next month.
“It's doing better. It's back in his right spot. So that's good,” DeLaGarza, sporting a full cast on his left arm, said following Thursday's training session at the Home Depot Center. “But it's got to take time to heal and get better. [It's] about three weeks, they said, before it gets really healed, and potentially it could pop out within those three weeks and you'd have to start that process all over, and that's why it in a cast right now, so no setbacks will happen.”
DeLaGarza, who has started all 28 league games for LA this season, most at center back but at right back since the Galaxy's International Champions Cup friendlies early last month, was hurt just eight minutes into the draw with D.C. when he fell awkwardly while defending Chris Pontius' foray on the left byline.
He's from Bryans Road, Md., about 20 miles south of Washington, and starred at the University of Maryland, and so he had plenty of friends and family – 112 tickets' worth – watching when he went down.
“Just one of those things, man,” he said. “Unfortunate. Can't even explain it. More upsetting [because] I haven't [played at RFK Stadium] in two years, and injuries happen, it's just frustrating that it happened there and so early [in the game].”
DeLaGarza says he's watched video of the incident “probably a million times” and that it's “sickening every time.”
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“It doesn't hurt any more from watching it, but you just catch little things,” he said. “Like, I watch it a lot, and finally the other day I caught Pontius kind of lost his balance and pushed down on my arm, and that's kind of what forced my body over into twisting it some, I guess.”
It was very painful, but he says he “can't remember how bad it hurt, I just knew it wasn't in the right spot. I might have been yelling. I don't even know.”
The cast, which should be removed in about a week, isn't easy to sign, but Landon Donovan tried. “It says, 'I love you, Adolpho,'" said DeLaGarza, whose first name is Adolph.
DeLaGarza is training with the Galaxy, heavily limited, of course, but able to “run and do ballwork and all that stuff,” and he expects to be ready to go when his arm is ready, likely in time for the Oct. 16 meeting with the Montreal Impact.
He missed the last month of the regular season and LA's run to a second successive MLS Cup title last year after spraining a medial collateral ligament in late September.
“I don't want to miss the playoffs twice, two years in a row,” he said. “That's my goal, to be back. ... Obviously, the knee was a little bit longer. This is just my arm – I don't really need my arm in soccer, except to throw the ball in. I'm sure we can change that up.
“If I can bend it and move it and not have any setback, I think I'll be ready.”